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Bush Approach Toward Iraq Successful, Some Arab Analysts Say


The Bush administration has been heavily criticized throughout the Arab world for its threats to use force against Iraq. But now that Iraq has agreed to renewed weapons inspections, some Arab political analysts are saying the U.S. policy seems to be working, up to a point.

For months President Bush has been harshly criticized by the public, the press, and political leaders throughout the Arab world. No Arab leader has publicly supported the use of military force against Iraq, and earlier this month the 22-member Arab League officially came out against an attack on Iraq.

On an almost daily basis Arab media have accused President Bush of seeking to change the political map of the region, of having a personal vendetta against Saddam Hussein, of acting on behalf of Israel and of seeking to control Iraq's oil reserves.

There have been public demonstrations against the Bush administration throughout the region.

Now, some analysts say President Bush's approach has been successful.

According to political analyst Abdullah el-Ashaal, whatever one thinks of Mr. Bush, no one can dispute that his Iraq policy appears to be working. Mr. el-Ashaal, who is an expert on Arab affairs and lectures at several Cairo universities, says President Bush should keep up the pressure.

"Yes, I think the United States should keep pressure on Iraq. It is, in fact, doing a good job and the whole world agrees that all the parties should be convinced of the importance of the respect of resolutions of the Security Council," he said.

Egyptian columnist and respected political analyst Fahmy Howeidi says the Bush administration has been "very clear and firm in its intent." And that, he says, has had an impact.

"It was serious. It was seen that the American administration is seriously preparing for invading or attacking Iraq and I think they [Iraq] were trying to avoid such attacks," Mr. Howeidi said.

The head of the al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, Abdel Moneim Sa'id, says President Bush is putting pressure on Saddam Hussein, while at the same time leaving the Iraqi leader an opportunity "to peacefully escape the threat of war."

"The pressure made by President Bush was essential in this front," he said. "With a regime like Saddam Hussein certainly pressure and threats are essential. But also he has got to have hope. In the essence of diplomacy and coercive power is that you have both to have pressure but also you have to have a way out. In this way you achieve the goal and at the same time avoid war."

The White House has said it views Saddam Hussein's decision to allow the return of the weapons inspectors as tactical and plans to seek an additional Security Council resolution making clear what demands Iraq must meet.

Mohammad Kadry Sa'id is a former Egyptian Army general who heads the military unit of the al Ahram Center. He thinks U.S. pressure caused the Iraqi leader to re-think his position, but perhaps only to buy some time.

"I think Saddam Hussein changed his mind because, in my view, he wants to have some time and in this time maybe some opportunities will appear, something will change," said Mr. Sa'id. "So this, I think, is the only solution for him, the only door open is to accept the inspectors."

One expert warns there must be more to the west's strategy than pressure on Saddam Hussein.

The head of the political science department at Cairo University, Hassan Nafae, says it is "much too soon" to say whether President Bush's policies are working. Professor Nafae says the president wants to remove Mr. Saddam from power, but must also think about what comes next.

"If he fails to do so it means that his is not capable of achieving the real goal. Even if he succeeds to remove Saddam Hussein this will be considered as half success, because unless you have an alternative to achieve more stability for the region, to achieve more prosperity for the Iraqi people it means that you already failed," he said. "You will succeed when you remove Saddam Hussein and secondly when you replace the Saddam Hussein regime by a better one."

President Bush announced Wednesday that he will seek a strong resolution from the U.S. Congress reflecting the resolve of the United States to deal with Saddam Hussein.

Arab analysts acknowledge that kind of tough approach has worked, but they remain concerned about what comes next.

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